The reception of Covid-19 denialist propaganda in Tanzania

Robert Macdonald*, Thomas Molony, Victoria Lihiru

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In June 2020, the government of Tanzania declared that Covid-19 had been eradicated from the country. As the figures released by Tanzania’s Ministry of Health since March 2021 show, this was not true. Taking this claim as an example of authoritarian propaganda, this article tackles the issue of ‘reception’ by asking if Tanzanians believed the government. Data from a nationally representative survey conducted close to the 2020 general elections suggest that one-third of respondents did believe the government’s declaration that Covid-19 had been eradicated from the country, although the government’s prior and less audacious claim – that the number of cases was declining – appears to have been more persuasive. The article also presents other evidence regarding the behaviour of Tanzanians during this period, which is consistent with these findings, before discussing why some Tanzanians bought into the government’s propaganda while others did not. The article concludes by arguing that the Tanzanian case shows that propaganda that may appear implausible to some audiences may be far more credible to others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-716
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Southern African Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Covid-19
  • propaganda
  • authoritarianism
  • Tanzania
  • Magufuli


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